The Art of Persuasion: A Worksheet for a Persuasive Essay
Base your responses here on your choice of one of the topic choices on the Topic Page document.
When reasonable, informed people disagree on a subject and one tries to convince others of the validity of his or her opinion, we say (s)he tries to persuade others. To write persuasively means to use
——reasoned argument (assertion and evidence)
——appeals to values held in common with the opponent
——concession to opposing views Professional Custom Writing Services from the Experts!
To write a persuasion essay, choose a topic from the choices on the topics choice document; choose a topic and focus that you care about, and that is of real rather than academic concern to you. You want one program to be adopted, for instance, or one person to be elected, or one side to win or one type of product bought, and it matters to you. Now, choose a topic question from the choices provided on the topic page you were given. Write that subject here (also, specify the number of the topic question you have chosen):
Now consider your audience. Who will you try to persuade—for instance, your wife to agree with your choice of a car? Your parents to agree with your change of a major? Your next door neighbor to vote for your candidate for the school board? The college community to act on a problem you see with registration, parking, security, or extracurricular activities? The city to support a tax referendum or bond issue? Television producers to cut down on the violence in Saturday morning cartoons?
Consider your chosen topic question carefully and your focused response. You have chosen a topic question focus from the list of topics on another document you were given. Describe your audience here:
Respond directly to your chosen topic question. What is your specific message or thesis? Write it here:
Now for a very important decision. Given the subject, audience and thesis that you have selected, how can you best reach this audience? What tone will you use? Will your most effective strategy be to adopt a business tone as you address the college community on the need for more parking facilities? Will you use clear, cogent reasons supported by more reasons? Or would a better tone be anger? You wrote a business letter on the subject six months ago and no one even answered it, so now your forum is the college newspaper and you’re mad. You got a parking ticket, you missed an exam and you want someone to do something about it right now. Righteous anger is your tone, and you want to appeal to that sense of frustration that you know others in the college share. However, given the same situation and the same audience, you may want to consider using wit, thinking that if you can make people laugh, you can convince them to do whatever you want. Describe here at this early stage what you think the best tone for your audience and position:
Now list the reasons supporting or confirming your position (should be two to five—if you have no more than one, think of another subject!):
An important consideration in persuasion is to think ahead to the arguments your opponents can use against your position. Who would disagree with you? What is that person or group’s strongest argument against your thesis? One method of thinking ahead is called Rogerian argument, after the psychologist Carl Rogers. This method calls for you to put yourself in the place of your opponent and try to see and understand the issue exactly as (s)he does. Will the administrators reject your call for more parking because there is not enough money for other badly needed improvements? Second, what values and knowledge do you share with your opponent? Surely both you and the administrators want students and faculty to have sufficient parking.
What values do you share with your opponent? Write them here:
What knowledge do you have in common with your opponent? Write that here:
What arguments do you think your opponent will offer in opposition to your position?
Can you refute these arguments? List those arguments here that you will have to concede to your opponent, and list the rebuttals, or refutations, you can develop. (Again, if you will have to fully concede all of the opposing arguments, and you cannot counter any of them, your case will be very weak.)
List those opposing arguments here:
Now, given all the decisions you have made, what will be the best strategy for organizing your persuasive essay? The classical scheme calls for an introduction which supplies the necessary background and states your thesis, then the confirmation of your thesis, followed by the concession and refutation section and then the conclusion. If you follow this strategy, you have several choices in the way you organize your arguments. You can begin with your weakest argument and end with your strongest or reverse that order. Or you can begin with the simplest argument and work up to the most complex. If you wish to vary the classical scheme, you can begin with the opposing arguments and then destroy them one by one, or you can make the necessary concessions as you support your own arguments. A popular organizational strategy: One section of the body of your argument can be devoted to concession-refutation, and the other sections to your other strong support arguments. Decide how you want to vary the classical scheme to suit your purposes, and outline the strategy of your essay here; what will be your thesis and main ideas:
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